I had the best dinner with my mom last night. I flew home this morning from spending some some time in San Jose seeing my parents, training in San Jose, and just making progress in my fitness. First I have to say that my mom is such a wise soul, she’s a phenomenal listener and she knows me better than anyone on this earth. I’m a lot like my dad, and she’s been married to him for like 35 years. She gets us. We had this really interesting conversation about being “all in”


I was an “all in” kind of girl when I started this sport, Age Group Nationals was my third triathlon. I qualified for it the weekend before, and then flew to Portland and raced. I was all in. Each year that progressed I tried to go even more all in, and through various coaches I learned more about dedication to goals and what sorts of actions got you there. The good sleep, the recovery, the flops, the food, it’s all come in bits and pieces as I tried to go more all in (can there be a MORE all in?)

At some point I noticed that some people seem to be a bit too “all in.” You know the person who’s sole existence is triathlon, their ego and worth in life hinging on race results and power numbers and average pace, etc etc. I noticed that this seemed to be not so healthy in those people, that they weren’t very fun to be around, and I saw that at times I had these feelings myself. Troy and Michelle are probably nodding their heads right now. So is that “all in?” as in EGO is all in?


Along the way I prided myself in the fact that I had never really had a bad race. I had generally progressed in an upwards fashion, finding my way to the podium on most all races through hard work, and solid race execution. I wasn’t the type of person to blurt out my accomplishments to other people, but to ask them about themselves, to learn about their journeys.

And I’ll be honest here. If you trained with me last year, you would have noticed pretty quickly that I was sad and depressed most of the year. Troy suggested that I disconnect from Dirk several times and just do my own thing. I was stuck (by my own choice) in an unhappy place and although I royally defiled a few restrooms on the Kona Ironman course, as I get some distance I recognize that I landed on that island pretty emotionally screwed up. In my core I was afraid that a good race would mean that my sad and depressed year was on the right path. That’s a bad bad place to step on the line. Yea, I defiled a few bathrooms, but if it wasn’t that, I kinda think something else would have derailed me. Self defeating. I didn’t want what felt all wrong to turn out to be right.

As I move forward from last year I find myself asking, what is “all in?” It seems that all in means all in. Like it’s not a spectrum, it’s an absolute, you are willing to do anything to get maximum results. But I know, I just know, because I’ve seen it a ton of times, that if all in means wrapping up every ounce of who you are in the sport, then you aren’t going to get maximum results. So after a long chat with mom I think I have a better idea of all in.


All in is personal. All in for me is a focus on going for it. Throwing out my hangups and insecurities and taking a leap. Going all in means fixing what sucked last year, and then having the sense to call it fixed, to stop dwelling. Don’t take the salt tabs, go chase what makes you happy, surround yourself with people that tell you they believe in you and mean it. My mom in all her wisdom pointed out to me that in Hawaii last year, before I stepped in the bathroom, I was running on the podium. My fitness was there, my body was ready to do great things.

But my head was screwed. Anyone who trains as consistently as I have for 5 years has a wide breadth of fitness. But the hangups and insecurities become the bigger performance limiter. This year I go all in to get rid of them. I will chase the joy, I will have the good attitude both on the court, and within the 4 walls of my home, and I will, I WILL, believe in myself.



Mental Training


  1. Sounds like your head is in great place, Sonja. By that measure, last year was a success! 🙂 Enjoy the journey this year!

  2. I love this entry. Just wanted to say good luck finding joy in the sport 🙂 You are a lovely person and a talented athlete!

  3. AND the avocado eggrolls and summer rolls were FABulous!
    You are everything I have said—-Wonderful, Awesome, Stong, Fierce, Fit, Fun, Ebullient, Driven, Crazy, Empathetic, Thoughtful, Loving, Outspoken, just all around a person that anyone would love to know and learn from!!

    Luv U

  4. Nothing beats a Mom for a little perspective! Your happiness, serenity and want for more adventure are the true measures of success in life.

  5. “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” -Teddy Roosevelt

    This is my first time reading your blog and I admire you keeping it real. This post reminded me of this quote and that You are in the arena and it takes great courage to stepback, re-eVALUEate, and get back in the game with fresh perspective. All my best for a great season, and feel free to be in touch if you ever want/need support.

  6. I re-read through some of your blog the other day and one thing i noticed about your situation is the older posts are all about training ‘with’ people, going to races and being’ amongst’ it being part of a family, enjoying the ride with others. Slowly this disappears a little as the years tick by and the stress you put on yourself gets bigger and bigger. You’re an amazing wman who has achieved so much whilst being a mum, a friend, a wife. I hope this year you can step back and ‘enjoy the ride’, you deserve it!! 🙂

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